I have let myself get so stressed out over the smallest things that I am now no longer enjoying my day but fretting over the things I have yet to do. Which are many. But whose life is different, really? Who gets to the end of the day and is able to say I have accomplished everything. (If this is you, then we need to meet.)
And now, even though I have been meaning to sit down and write out my thoughts, I don't even know what they are, besides sometimes I would like to get rid of my kids.
I had plenty of time over the last several days to contemplate things like why am I sometimes such a difficult person, and then I got stuck on that and never really contemplated much else. I feel like that maybe I do things on purpose just to cause a fracas. I'm not sure why this is, but I am certain it is part of my DNA and probably cannot be changed. I am also certain I make excuses for myself when I feel convicted over things.
I also had some time to contemplate, for whatever reason, that hazy aftermath that made up the months after my mom's death. It was May of 2006, and we had just moved from my beloved and charming 1950's city home to a new house in my same hometown. Not only had my mom died the month before, but I loved my neighbors and didn't want to leave them. I was positive my new neighbors wouldn't even be nice. That same month, we were celebrating my youngest baby's first birthday, and my younger sister had just graduated from college. Plus, we were all prepped and ready to go to the beach. I didn't really want to be a part of any of it. In fact, I really did not even care. My very soul felt dark and heavy. And sad.
Beach houses are a curious anomaly to me. From the outside, you have this dazzling, fourteen bedroom mansion, and on the inside, it looks like someone threw up starfish and seafoam green and flowers. I understand that it's a rental and it should only be but so nice (which in normal conversation would lead me to a discourse on respecting property, but I'll save you the pain) but when the built-in shelving around the unused fireplace is chaotic, it bothers me. So I expressed my heavy soul in a most unique way in May 2006.
I redecorated. Yes. The beach house. (Free of charge. You're welcome, yellow beach house owners.)
Our friends looked on as if everyone who visits a beach house during the month of May revamps the shelves and tables in the living room. My husband was just trying to survive a trip with a one-year-old, a three-year-old, a wackadoodle wife, the wackadoodle wife's sister and two of her friends, another family, and their own small kids.
It was an interesting week. And those shelves looked good.
I didn't know anything about God in 2006. Of course, I knew who He was. I had grown up in church and learned the Southern Baptist Way. But I didn't really know Him. So I relied on other things to help me struggle through the pain and grief.
Last night during dinner, the kids got out our conversation starter cards. If you don't have them, google them. It's fun to hear (when they can be serious) what other people really would do or think or feel. The question that got me last night was "what is the hardest thing you've ever had to do?" Some kids could answer that question with a raw truth, but mine can't. They've never been through anything truly hard, other than science homework or learning to meet someone new. My husband said parenting, and I agree. Marriage and parenting are two of the hardest things that I didn't anticipate actually being hard. But my answer was simple. The hardest thing I've ever had to do is just say goodbye.
Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a relationship that you know will never rekindle. Sometimes it's saying goodbye to a good friend who will probably never move back to the house next door. Sometimes it's a little more permanent, and the goodbye is not one you want to have to say, and you'd do anything to take it back, to have one more day, one more conversation, one last hug.
On the surface, I can be a fairly superficial girl. Would I rather be a poor scientist who finds a cure for cancer or be a wealthy Hollywood starlet who is famous? Weeellll...I mean, sometimes, I'd just rather be the famous starlet. (I am quite fascinated by celebrities, not quite to the point of Perez Hilton, though.) Being superficial isn't really me, it's just my way of not having to deal. I don't like to be sentimental and I hate sappy emotionalism. So I don't tend to dwell on the things that make me sad.
Like saying goodbye.
But I miss my sister, who lives four hours away, and who will likely never live next door like we planned all those years ago. And I miss my friend, who has moved to New York and unless some sort of miracle happens, will probably not move back into my neighborhood. And I miss my in-town friend, who used to live next door but we've moved and they've moved and now our visits are few and far between. And I really miss my mom, whose face I searched for in crowds for the year or two after her death, all the while knowing and telling myself girl, you're crazy. She's not here.
The truth is, there is a narrow band of time that redecorating the shelves soothes my aching soul, but then I have to deal again. I didn't know how to deal in 2006. I redecorated. (A lot.) But it was like swimming in the same eddy and not knowing how to get out. It was at that point that the God I knew about and the God who is my God collided. My world just about blew up, and I had a choice to make. This churchy God I had heard and learned about, or this real God who could take my ashes and turn them into a crown of beauty?
I had to get out of the eddy. So I made the choice for life.
...and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on the a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.
Life has not worked out according to plan. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. (Oy vey, is it hard.) Lately, I've been caught up in how hard it is. I'm afraid. Will everything turn out okay? Nothing guarantees that life will not be hard.
But He guarantees to take every step with me.